Tokyobling's Blog

Urban Ruin Zafari – Okinawa

Posted in Places by tokyobling on March 4, 2011

I don’t know about other places – I’m pretty new to the game – but urban ruin safari is a pretty common sport among young westerners in Japan. There are tons of great blogs and photo sites dedicated to the fine sport of finding and exploring abandoned buildings. Urban decay appreciation as a fine art?

This occupation demands skill, strong nerves and great deal of luck, as well as tons of dedication. In Japanese there are books about the subject and it goes under the name of Haikyo (not to be confused with the form of poetry knows as Haiku).

I have never really understood why, but Japan seems to be littered with abandoned buildings, houses and even resorts. Go driving anywhere in the country and you’re bound to notice the boarded up and abandoned concrete constructions stood next to motor ways, streets and rural side roads. Some if not most of them are stark reminders of the big recession that hit Japan in the early 90’s, at the End of the Bubble Era. I get the basic economic reasons behind the failure of many of these building projects, but why they are left up all these years is a mystery. In most western countries local governments would probably take it upon themselves to confiscate unused land and tear buildings down rather than leave them to decay, but in Japan this almost never happens, and the buildings, both public and private constructions remain standing.

For some reason every single one of my Japanese friends absolutely refuse to take me every time I suggest we go on a ruin safari, but last month while visiting Okinawa I was on my own and couldn’t resist exploring this abandoned hotel on top of a small mountain near the Okinawan capital of Naha (a place called Nagausuku). I didn’t spend too long though, and even though I got a couple of hundred meters into the main building I didn’t even see one tenth of it all. Not only because it is actually illegal, but also because it was just to much of a hazard to climb around on my own. As many more experienced ruin lovers than me say – never go on a ruin safari alone! Here’s a few shots. Enjoy!

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